The UK Rules
Process of Being Charged With a Crime

Being Charged With a Crime UK

What happens after being charged with crime? This page explains the police procedure if you get charged with a crime in the United Kingdom.

YOUR RIGHTS: Find out details about the court hearing and when you can get released on bail. In some cases you can get put into custody (on remand) after the police charge you.

The police will issue a 'charge sheet'. A police charge sheet UK sets out the exact details of the crime you have been charged with.

If you get charged by police they will then decide whether:

If you get charged with a crime your first court hearing should be at a magistrates' court. The police use a 'virtual court' using video technology in some cases. This applies even if your trial will take place at a Crown Court at a later date.

Been Charged With a Crime UK: What Happens Next?Charging Young Offenders

Bail Procedure UK

Once the police have charged the offender they sometimes release them on bail in the UK. That means the offender can leave the police station and go home until the court hearing.

But, the bail process in the United Kingdom means you might have to agree to some bail conditions such as:

If you fail to fulfill the conditions of bail you can get arrested again. If that happens you will get taken to prison while you wait for your court hearing.

When you have attended your hearing you might get given bail again until the start of your trial. This can happen if your hearing takes place at a magistrates' court or a 'virtual court' with video conferencing in courtrooms.

Reasons for Not Getting Bail

There are several common reasons why you may not get bail such as if:

Remand Process UK

The court may decide to put you on remand if you are an adult. That means you will go to prison until you get a hearing at a magistrates' court.

Offenders under 18 years of age will get taken to a special secure centre for youngsters. Facilities used for young people in custody are not the same as adult prisons.

There are several common reasons why you may get put on remand such as if:

In some cases you might get put on remand again when you attend your hearing at a magistrates' court. Further remand can happen until your trial begins (even if you got bail before).

Single Justice Procedure Notice

Being charged with a minor criminal offence means you may have your case decided by a magistrate. It also means you would not need to go to court.

The UK courts system calls it 'single justice procedure' and it would apply if you receive a single justice procedure notice when charged.

Note: A magistrate makes a decision on the case without your input - if you fail to respond to the notice within 21 days. The court could find you guilty or you could receive a fine.

Responding to a Single Justice Procedure Notice

The notice will state who brought the case against you (e.g. TV Licensing, the police). It also explains how to make a plea and whether you can make your plea online.

When you respond to a single justice procedure notice you must state whether you are pleading guilty or pleading not guilty.

If You Plead Guilty

Making a guilty plea means you can choose whether to attend court or not. The magistrate would make a decision based on the information that they already have if you do not attend. The court will send you a letter stating the magistrate's decision.

The main benefit of going to court yourself is being able to give information (in person) about your case to the magistrates. You would get a letter notifying you of the court date and the venue.

If You Plead Not Guilty

Making a not guilty plea means you must be present at the court case. You would need to give information to the magistrates (in person). You would get a letter notifying you of the court date and the venue.

If You Do Not Respond to the Notice

Failing to respond to the single justice procedure notice within 21 days means the magistrate would make a decision on the case without your input.

It could mean there would be no reduced sentence for making a guilty plea if the court finds you guilty and sentenced. It could also mean:

  • Your fine or your penalty point endorsements may be higher.
  • The court may take money from your pay or from your welfare benefits.

Note: You can get free help with single justice procedure notices from the Citizens Advice. Some rules of being charged with a crime differ in Scotland and in Northern Ireland.

Process of Being Charged With a Crime in United Kingdom